Contrary to what you believe, Duke, I haven't voted Labour for about 30 years. However, I am thinking of doing so on 3 May. What do the spending priorites of Manchester City Council tell us about what might happen if a Labour council were elected in Stockport? Oh, and please, we don't want to hear any more about Sir Richard Leese ;-)
The way I see it Dave is this. The council had a budget cut, despite them crying foul, it was only a cut equivalent to their 2007 budget (in real terms - taking consideration of inflation etc). The truth of the matter it that we as individuals have seem our budget cut because the council have enjoyed generous inflation busting increases in their budget for many years.
So there is a cut in councils budget we can all agree, I say about time too, you may say that's wrong but that is a different matter.
Like any of us, when faced with a reduction in budget, we have to look at what in life we really need, what's nice to have and what is essentially a waste.
So, a council? I'd say we still need streets cleaned, libraries, sports facilities etc all things that are classic council services. If I were a leader of a council, I'd try my best to protect these and in Manchester city council's case, they easily afforded these services in 2007 so there is absolutely no reason that a competent council can afford to keep them going in 2012. Of course, for a Labour council, competence isn't something that comes easily. Given the cut in budget, Manchester city council announced large cutbacks of these council services that most would think are core to what a council should be doing. They did this with great fanfare and some (even me) would suggest these cuts which play with people's lives were not just down to incompetence but were actually a cynical move by a Labour council trying to make political capital with a total disregard of those who pay council tax or those who depend on the council's services. So they are either cynical power crazed dictators or totally incompetent or a mixture of both.
Ok, you may say but they lost there budget, where could savings have been made? Well, the council carried on with it's Summer and winter entertainments programme, music festivals and other funded events for people who like itchy clothing, None of this was cut! It did seek sponsorship for it's main indulgence in he summer and claimed that it would be self-financing , guess what, it wasn't cost estimates now suggest more than £1m!! What else could it have done? Perhaps there were no other areas that could be cut. Well, here is just a sample of jobs that are still going strong, paid for by the council tax payer. Whilst the council could not afford a librarian at £12k a year, it has advertised for the following posts: Nuclear Free Local Secretariat & Policy and Research Officer @ £37k, New Media Manager @ £38k, Link Worker - Indian and East African Asian on £25,940; a Cultural Regeneration Officer (1) @ a cool £30k; another Cultural Regeneration Officer on a mere £28,919, Assistant Specialist Market Manager on £ 27,016...well it is only an assistant post, Corporate Lead Officer, Lesbians' issues ( I kid you not ) on £38k, Corporate Lead Officer, Gay Men's Issues, another £38k, a 'Zest' Hub Co-Ordinator ( whatever that is ) on £30k, Climate Change Officer £37,206, Team Strategic Development on salary of £41,616, a Creative Director on a juicy £120,000, An Expressive and Performing Arts Technician @ £21,519, a Travel Change Team Policy Officer on £34,549.....
Maybe it's just my preference and that's why my local authority wasn't the one I voted for. Maybe that's democracy but those are not my priorities for a local council.
Oh yes, Richard Leese lied through his teeth about Tif - I can't imagine why....actually I can think of thousands of reasons before tax + expenses.